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Visiting the grave of Orson Phelps

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  • Visiting the grave of Orson Phelps

    As I was driving home from Saranac Lake on Sunday I stopped in Keene Valley to visit the grave of Orson Schofield Phelps. You all of course know him as Old Mountain Phelps, famed Adirondack guide who cut the first trail up Mt. Marcy and who Phelps Mountain and Phelps Brook are named after. He is buried is a very small cemetery in Keene Valley that is well hidden from the public. I found the cemetery on a topo map and had a general idea where it was but finding it from the road was an impossible task. I had to get some assistance from a helpful local resident who pointed out the obscure turn off a private road a little way off Route 73. That turn had me going up a long driveway to a private residence where an elderly couple was enjoying the afternoon on their front porch. I parked out front and was warmly greeted. I politely asked if they knew where the cemetery was. They indicated it was in their back yard and offered to show me exactly where. They were incredibly nice and friendly people who took time out of their day to give me the nickel tour. They sort of unofficially look after the headstones even though the town does the maintenance on the cemetery. I snapped some pictures and was about to go on my way when the wife asked me to help her with some work. I of course said yes to return the kindness they had just shown me. Little did I know that the bucket of sudsy water and brush she was carrying was to clean Phelps' headstone! Evidently she cleans it a few times a year and me pulling into their yard today and asking about the cemetery reminded her of this task. So I happily accepted the assignment, applied some elbow grease to the 100+ year old marker, and cleaned up the face of the headstone pretty well. See before and after pics below. I asked how many people visit the cemetery each year. They said that only a few each summer find their way there. I can understand why. Beyond having the curiosity to do so you would need rather specific directions to find it. So there you go.... among the tens of thousands of people who have climbed Phelps Mountain, I may be one of the very few ever to have also cleaned the headstone of its namesake.



    Last edited by Makwa; 09-09-2015, 09:45 AM.

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